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(Registered as Rosa, also known as Rose)


Rose Harriett Chapman was the name given on her death certificate but by tracing Mr Edward Foreman, the informant, it confirms this was not her birth name. Rose Harriett was registered as Rosa Chapman, born on 17 August 1884 at 103 Battersea Park Road/Nine Elms Lane. This is further confirmed by her Reception Order documents. The family seem to have variations on most of their children’s names.

For the purposes of this story, I shall refer to her as Rose.

Rose’s parents and siblings

Her parents were Charles Chapman and Harriet Chapman née Bright and through checks in the General Register Office website the following births were registered in that area where the mother’s maiden name was Bright.

NameQuarterPlaceMother’s maiden nameKnown As
Sarah AliceJune 1870LambethBrightAlice
CharlesMarch 1873LambethBrightCharles
Harriet Ellen Mary AnnMarch 1875LambethBrightHarriett
Albert CharlesMarch 1878LambethBrightAlfred
SusannahJune 1880LambethBrightSusan
RosaSeptember 1884WandsworthBrightRose
FrederickJune 1888WandsworthBrightFrederick

Baptism records can only be found for Frederick but according to Rose’s Reception Order she could have been Roman Catholic, but I have not been able to find any online records.

Census entries give different places of birth with vague years of birth for Charles and Harriet and I have not yet been able to find a marriage record for them. It is likely that Charles was born between 1825 and 1840 in South Benfleet, Essex and Harriett Bright around 1848 to 1853 and she hailed from Dunmow in Essex. Dates of birth are vague and although I can find baptisms for people with the same names in the right areas, I cannot say for sure that I have the right records.

The first time the family group can be glimpsed is in the 1881 Census.


Living at 15 Princes Square, Lambeth, in the parish of St Andrews.

Harriet Chapman, married, the wife of a Lighterman from Great Dunmow in Essex. Children living with her are Harriet aged 6, Alfred aged 3 and Susannah aged 9 months who were all born in Lambeth.

Charles can be found working as a mate on the Queen of the Thames barge aged 54. Also on board was his son Charles aged 8. The Queen of the Thames barge was a 48-tonne vessel carrying building materials whose Master was a man named William Ellis.  On the night of the 8 April they had reached St Clements Reach in the Thames Estuary.

Two further children had been born to the family in the 1880’s, Rosa who known as Rose or Harriet, born in 1884 and Frederick who was born in 1888.


By 1891 the family were living in the Nine Elms area of Battersea. Close to the River Thames it was a mainly industrial area known for its cramped housing and poverty.

The census gives their address as 103, Nine Elms Lane and they were the only people living at this address at the time. 

Charles is stated to be 64, working as a Watchman, giving his place of birth as Battersea. Harriett, aged 48 and with no occupation is from Battersea.

However, there is another likely entry for Charles senior aged 66 with his son Charles aged 17. Living in Barking as a Watchman in Charge. It seems possible that as before he was living and working away from home with his eldest son. This would not be the first time that the census would record members of the Chapman family twice.

The children are listed as Alice aged 20 with no occupation, Charles aged 18 who was working as a Labourer, Harriett aged 16, Albert aged 14, Susan aged 11, Rose aged 7 and Fred aged 3. All were born in Lambeth or Battersea.

1901 and onwards

The family are still living in the Nine Elms area in 63, Savona Street – a poor area. This time Charles is noted as aged 52 and working as a Wharfinger from South Benfleet. A Wharfinger was responsible for goods delivered to a wharf. Harriett aged 48 is a washer in a laundry. The following children are listed as being at home. Charles aged 28, working as a General Labourer, Harriett aged 27 with no occupation, Alfred aged 22 working as a carman, Susan aged 21, Rose aged 17 and Frederick aged 13. Also living in the house was Edward Foreman aged 25, a carman who went on to marry Susan and became the informant on Rose’s death certificate. There was also Harry Chiles aged 29, a boarder who was a Gas stoker. 

This decade brought change to the family. Charles Chapman senior died on 18 February 1904 whilst they were living at 71, Savonna Street and Rose was admitted to Long Grove Hospital on 5 May 1909. 

Her Reception Order and various documents show that her family have moved numerous times within the Battersea Area south of Battersea Park Road since Charles died. Her mother stated that she had no one to assist with maintenance for Rose/Harriet. Although there is evidence that three of her older siblings lived at home perhaps this did not help financially.

She was examined and deemed to be insane on 4 May 1909 and that the likely cause was heredity as her paternal Uncle and sister were both “afflicted with insanity”. She was clean but her bodily condition is poor. Sadly, it is her mental state that possibly her mother felt she could no longer cope with. She was sadly described as “noisy, incoherent and irrational”. “Shouting and raving in a senseless fashion, assuming strange attitudes, restive and troublesome. Harbouring delusions, for example imagining that her hair is cut off”. The decision was made to send her to Long Grove the next day.

1911 Census

She was still alive at the time of the 1911 Census and her mother records that she was living at home with the family. Sadly, there is no evidence this is the case. The census entry for the family is interesting but lists the family unit inaccurately but this may be because the family were responsible for completion of the census return themselves.

The family were living at 38 Ceylon Street (a fairly comfortable area) in Battersea

The occupants are shown as

Charles, aged 73, married for 40 years (crossed out) ‘dead’ written in occupation

Harriett, aged 62, stating 6 children were born and 6 still alive. No occupation.

Charles, single, aged 40, a Waterside Labourer working for Covington and Sons

Harriett single aged 36 with 3 children. (Harriet marries in 1915) 

Alf, married for 16 years, aged 33, working at Prices Candle factory with 5 children (Married in 1898 to Alice Prior and living at 68 Grant Road, Battersea)

Susan, married for 7 years, aged 31, with 3 children. (She was living at 38 Ceylon Street in a separate family unit with her husband Edward Foreman and children)

Rose, single, aged 27, noted as feeble minded.

Fred, married for 2 years, no children, working as a Waterside Labourer alongside brother Charles.

On checking the 1911 census for Long Grove for Rose – there is an entry that may be her

“H C Patient aged 27 Tailors Presser from London – Lunatic”

There is no evidence that Rose left Long Grove once she was admitted so perhaps her mother wished to acknowledge Rose’s existence within the family unit. (Expenses Documents for the Wandsworth Union support that Rose remained in Long Grove)

Sadly, Rose died on 11th December 1911 at Long Grove from Pulmonary Tuberculosis, and she was buried in Horton Cemetary on 16th December 1911 in Grave number 1542a.

The family

Although this story is about Rose/Harriet/Rosa it has been frustrating that her parents have been difficult to identify properly and therefore give the family a more detailed background. There is a story found in the Newspapers about a Charles Chapman who was a Captain of a Thames barge whose wife Sarah died of drowning off Blackfriars Bridge in 1868.  The following year he lost his 5 children when his barge sank off the Isle of Grain. I have not been able to prove this was Rose’s father but there are a lot of similarities. This is a story that may be become clearer when more evidence becomes available.

Who was the Paternal Uncle who had mental health issues and was the sister referred to in the Reception Order the elusive Sarah Alice born in 1870? I have not been able to trace their stories.

There is one story about the family which gives us an insight into Rose’s siblings and their home life which occurred two months before Rose was admitted to Long Grove. Several Newspapers reported a Case in the Police Courts regarding Rose’s younger brother Frederick in March 1909. He had deserted his 17-year-old wife and returned to his mother’s home refusing to maintain his young wife. It was said he had strange views and that he thought his young wife should not laugh and if she did, he would “Knock her around”. Rose’s sister Susan, now Mrs Foreman, expressed the view that he should not leave the girl destitute. “You must give her something to keep her. She wants food as well as you”. This seems to indicate that whilst Rose’s younger brother was a volatile man, her sister was a compassionate and caring person.  It must have been a difficult situation for the family given Rose’s mental state as well.

Charles Chapman, the eldest male sibling, never married and sadly drowned in 1924 when he slipped off a barge. (Source: South Western Star Newspaper)

What of Mr E Foreman who was the informant on Rose’s death certificate?  He married Susannah Chapman in 1905 and both his father and Grandfather were Artists and Picture Restorers. Edward did not follow in their footsteps and was a labourer. Given Susan’s compassion for her sister-in-law, can we assume that same compassion extended to her younger sister and that was why her husband became the informant named on the death certificate?

Rose’s mother Harriett appears to have died in 1924 aged 77 years old. 

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